CLA – VoiceThread

When I learned that my all day institute on doing more with less was canceled, I was a bit concerned.  What was I supposed to do alone in Sacramento for a whole day?  I wandered around downtown, toured the governor’s mansion, and then went to the convention center to pick up my badge.  I found the nearest Starbucks, and looked through CLA’s promotional materials.

Well… I noticed that the School Library Association (CSLA) was having a free concurrent session in the afternoon.  Since I didn’t have anything else to do, and they were allowing CLA people to attend, I thought I’d go to one.

I chose the session on VoiceThread (by Jane Lofton) because it sounded like something that we could use in the public library. You can sign up for it and play with it for free at  One thing to keep in mind is that the free account lets you comment on an unlimited number of VoiceThreads, but you can only create 3 threads of your own.

VoiceThread is an online technology that allows you to capture and hold an entire conversation on one page.  People can leave recorded voice comments, or text comments.  One person can respond to another’s comment, and so on.   And, as they’re leaving comments they can make (impermanent) doodles on your thread.  Your threads can be still pictures with your voice recorded over them, a Power Point presentation, or a video. It can be embedded into your blog, searchable by keyword, kept private or made public, and it’s a lot of fun.

That’s all well and good, but how would you use this in a library setting?

Advertise Upcoming Events: Think of it as a mini commercial for your library.  Have an upcoming performance? Put up the flyer and record your voice talking about the event.  Ask your viewers a question to encourage their responses.

Book Talks: We all have our favorite books, but what if we want to read something different?  Where do we go to learn about new books and old classics?  By recording a book talk, you can tell people all about it.  And, you don’t even have to record your face doing it (if you’re uncomfortable), just put up a picture of the book and talk!  This is also a great opportunity to get your community involved by asking them to record book talks of their own. Don’t forget – book talks are great for kids, teens and adults.

Start a Conversation: Is there an important event going on in your community?  Are you thinking of trying a new program but want to know if the community would really attend?  Ask a question, and your viewers will respond.

Online Book Club: I’d love to join a book club, but they always meet when I’m at work.  What’s a gal to do?  Join an online book club of course!  Have everyone read the same book, and then have your discussions on VoiceThread.  It might also be a great way to connect an entire community through a conversation about your One City-One Book program.

Orientations and How-Tos: We all encounter patrons who don’t know where to find our materials, or how to use our technology.  Why not record a library orientation/tour and show your patrons how to check  out, renew, and return materials?  Walk them through searching the catalog and databases for information.  It could be a great way for people to learn how to use their local library.

Advocacy: Show your stakeholders what you do for your community.  Tell them all about your library and why they should support you with their tax dollars and donations.  You’d be amazed what shameless self-promotion will do for you.  And remember – it’s not bragging if it’s true!

Staff Training: Produce 5-10 minute training vignettes for your staff.  It’s often very difficult to get away from your work for a day (or even a half day), but 5-10 minutes at a time is doable.  The comments they leave can be used to verify that they actually watched the training.

ESL and Reading Practice: Because your threads can be kept private, you can feel comfortable recording yourself practicing speaking in another language so that your instructor can listen and critique.  You can also do something very similar for Reading Literacy classes.

Portfolios: Traditionally portfolios inspire thoughts of art, but why not create a portfolio of historical library photos?  Or keep a record of past events?


So, that’s one of the things I learned about at CLA.  It looks like an interesting technology.  It seems like it might be a great way to reach out to the community and get them to respond.  What do you think?

Thing #15: Library 2.0

For this thing we were to read a couple different webpages about Library 2.0 and what it means for us and for the future.  Then we were supposed to write a blog entry about it.

“Into a New World of Librarianship” by Michael Stephens talked about what it means to be a 2.0 Librarian.  He writes that a 2.0 Librarian plans for their users, making sure to break down barriers to allow information access everywhere.  In doing this they should be avoid creating policies and procedures that impede such access and take away the transparency that library users want. 

The 2.0 Librarian should embrace Web2.0 tools, but not embrace them to the point of “technolust.”  These tools should work, fill a need, or create a service that’s useful for the library’s users.  In doing this, the 2.0 Librarian is a trendspotter, and makes good, fast decisions while listening to what the staff and users really want when they’re planning for the future.

I thought Stephens’ page had some good points about embracing technology while avoiding technology for technology’s sake.  I often worry that techie folks are techies just because they like collecting the technology, not because it’s useful.  If libraries become the same way, then they will suffer from technology overload and do no good for themselves or their customers.


I decided that I should play with SecondLife since I’ll probably have to use it sometime in my college career.  I downloaded the program, made my avatar, and decided to make her look like me.  My hunny looked at the avatar and said “Huh… you lost weight in SecondLife.”  Should I have made myself into a furry animal instead?

The controls are a little strange, but I’m not sure how much of that is because I’m doing all this on my laptop, and how much of it is because of the way the program’s designed.  For instance, sometimes I want to see something other than my avatar’s backside… but I can’t figure out how to toggle the camera view yet.  I did figure out how to add myself to the SJSU SLIS group though.  Now it says “Spartan” above my name.

Either way, I’ll explore a bit more and play with it a bit more before I make any major decisions about it.  I did learn that I can’t have any other windows open or my lap top will crash.  I think it has something to do with the graphics memory or something. 

In other news… I have a partner for my Information Retrieval class.  We paired up based on a mutual love of zombie movies, books by Laurell K. Hamilton, and quilting.  My partner lives in Sacramento, though, so it might be a little difficult for us to get together in person if we ever needed to.

I know I should be counting my blessings about this, but school isn’t going as fast as I need it to go.  It’s the first week, and I know things will pick up considerably.  My only problem with this week’s pace is a matter of scheduling.  I’d like to get a better feel for how fast I need to go in these classes, and how much work I’ll need to do so that I can figure out how to budget my time.  Also, each teacher has modified BlackBoard to suit their needs, so the buttons are all in different places, and sometimes have different names.  It’s not a big deal, but it can be confusing.  I also wonder if any of the teachers will be posting lectures for us to listen to, if so how often and how long will they be?  Or will they just post their thoughts about the topics covered in the chapters?  Will they get involved in the Bulletin Board discussions, or just monitor them?  It’s definitely difficult to get a feel for the class and the teacher if it’s all online.  I thought I’d be very well prepared because the PACE program had some online classes, but to have ALL of them be in the distance ed format is very different.  *sigh*  I know I’ll get the hang of it, and I know this is just me worrying for nothing… but still, I worry.

Alright it’s way past my bedtime, so I should head to bed.  I have to be up sometime tomorrow to take care of the laundry and head to Chabot for a ballroom dancing class my hunny wants to take with me. 

Before LibraryThing

A couple days ago my hunny sent me a link to an article on  He knows that we’ve been learning about new library technologies and thought it would be right up our alley.  The article is about a computer program called Alexandria.

Alexandria came out before LibraryThing.  It’s a program you download onto your computer to catalog your personal library, wishlist, books you’ve loaned out… you get the idea.  You can create a heading for each type and they’re put in alphabetical order.

Linux’s article states that some portions are a little glitchy, but they have every confidence that by its 1.0 release those problems will be resolved.

I haven’t used the program myself, but I thought the article was interesting anyway.  I wonder if Alexandria will catch on or even overtake LibraryThing once its glitches are fixed.

Articles: Information and Society, Week 1 (Libr200)

This week I’ve read several interesting articles and book chapters about why libraries are important, what they do for the community, and why we shouldn’t worry that they’ll go away. 

[Ryan, J.C. (1999). The public library. Seven Wonders: Everyday Things for a Healthier Planet. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. 53-60.]
This chapter explained that by supporting a library, and using its resources, customers are saving the planet.  Every time they check out materials, the customer is reusing something they might have otherwise purchased new.  This is interesting, because such things as borrowing from your neighbors has fallen by the wayside, but borrowing from the library (or even the video rental store) is still as popular as ever.  “The Public Library” discusses why people use the library, and how we can get them to do more to reuse rather than buy new.

[Macintyre, B. (2004, December 18) Paradise is Paper, Vellum and Dust: Libraries will Survive the Digital Revolution because They are Places of Sensuality and Power. Times Online.]
Ben Macintyre explains that libraries will never disappear, even if Google succeeds with its quest to digitize all printed information.  Libraries are powerful and filled with knowledge.  There’s a spirituality to visiting the library, especially if it’s ancient.  However, libraries must evolve and actively attract new people; the internet should be the beginning rather than the end of the customer’s search.  If the library doesn’t try, it will lose its validity for today’s consumer and will only be thought of nostalgically.

Strong, G. Libraries empower people to participate in a civil society. Emerging Visions for Access in the Twenty-first Century Library,  April 21-22, 2003. Institutes for Information Science, Council on Library and Information Resources and the California Digital Library, Council on Library and Information Resources: Washington, DC. 27-33.
This article discusses what the Queens public library (in New York) has done to stay valid for its community.  They focus on (1) being state of the art, (2) books and reading, (3) quality customer service, and (4) teens and children.  Add into this their ethnic and performing arts programming, community education, and special language collections, and the community goes wild.  They also have an International Relations Office that coordinates with other countries to allow library personnel to learn “from the source.”  In short, by providing a broad base of information and focusing on the community’s needs, the Queens Library is seeing more people than ever before.

American Library Association. (2006). The new American library.  State of America’s Libraries Report, 2006 State of America’s Libraries Report. []
In the section titled “The New American Library,” the ALA reports that the library’s definition has changed to include all the resources it provides, and that changing technology has brought more people to the library than ever before.  This is great, but one of the problems is that budgetary constraints keep libraries from answering the public’s demand for true high speed internet access.  Even with this increased usage, adult illiteracy is still very high.  This section also discussed the Bookmobile’s 100th anniversary, and the oral history project called StoryCorps.

Hartman, C. W. (2000). Memory, Palace, Place of Refuge, Coney Island of the Mind: The Evolving Role of the Library in the Late 20th Century.  Research Strategies 17, 107-121.
At first glance this article seems to be much like any other, describing the ways libraries might change to keep the public’s attention.  What’s interesting, is that this article was written by an architect who discussed the ways the building itself affects its use and the public’s impression of it.  Hartman explains that as new libraries are being built, they’re not just libraries any more.  Many have become the cultural and entertainment capitals of their cities.  They often inculde museums, performing spaces, gathering spaces, coffee shops, book stores, lecture spaces, archives, study areas, AND the stereotypical library stacks.  But in designing these new buildings, architects must take into account and plan for the fact that reading is a quiet activity; noisy activities should be kept far away from quiet spaces.  It was interesting to read about changes in the library from an architectural point of view.

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